JARED DE CANHA
A lack of access to basic education is not only a problem for children in South Africa, but a problem which affects children across the globe. Despite the progress which has been made following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to get all children into the classroom, millions of children worldwide still have not had this right realised.
This is why the A World at School campaign was founded in 2013. This global initiative, which has decided to make education their number one priority, has estimated that as many as 58 million children across the globe are not privileged enough to attend school, and hope to remedy this through their efforts. With the number of children without access to education on the rise, A World at School have launched their international campaign in an attempt to magnify the efforts of countries across the globe to provide key educational opportunities to their citizens. The campaign hopes to achieve this by placing pressure on world leaders through the launch of the #UpForSchool initiative, which is aimed at prioritising education through encouraging as many global citizens as possible to sign what could potentially be the world’s biggest education petition in history. The organisation believes that the petition will provide authority which no government, politician or world leader can ignore and will demand safe and widespread educational opportunities for all children.
The campaign hopes to secure as many signatures as possible through their network of teachers, faith-based groups, businesses and private companies, foundations, NGOs, youth and social justice campaigns which span the globe, as well as through the 500 Global Youth Ambassadors who represent the campaign in 85 countries worldwide. According to the campaign’s website, these leaders, aged 14 to 29, are chosen based on their “interest, passion and dedication” to being a part of the global education solution. One such ambassador is Dennis Ngango, a UP student, News24 columnist and an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust. Ngango has collected almost 300 of the approximate 5.5 million signatures since his recent appointment as a Global Youth Ambassador, and said that his support of the campaign was in aid of “the 58 million children who are out of school and the hundreds of millions more who are in school, but not learning”. Ngango also explained that education had played a vital role in helping him achieve his success, and that he identifies with the message of the A World at School campaign to provide education for all.
A World at School believes that in order to achieve their goal of providing educational opportunities to children, the campaign must tackle the barriers which prevent the advances of education. These are caused by poverty and discrimination which occur across the globe and include conflicts, emergencies and natural disasters, the practice of child labour, the practice of child marriage, discrimination based on disability, gender, and ethnicity, a lack of teachers, and a lack of funding and infrastructure. According to the campaign’s website, the actions by the countries with the highest percentages of children out of school also prevent their achievement of the goal of education. This is because more than half of the 29 countries listed as having more than 500 000 children out of school currently do not have adequate strategies, laws and conventions in place to achieve the MDG of universal primary education.
The campaign has set its sights on increasing pressure on global governments by adhering to a timeline set by the international community. Thus, the organisation has set a deadline for the end of this year and has established a #EducationCountdown movement aimed at holding the global community accountable for the completing of the implementation of the stagnant MDG. The campaign also hopes to enlist support from teachers and businesses through the creation of “Action Packs” specifically tailored to ensure that people assist in influencing the decision-makers in various communities. A World at School have also welcomed applications for students to become Global Youth Ambassadors. Ngango has encouraged anyone interested in prioritising education to sign the petition to help reach the worldwide goal.
The movement is based on the belief that nothing changes without applying the correct pressure, and it is hoped that the combined voices of millions from across the globe will persuade world leaders to increase their efforts in ensuring that every child can exercise their right to an education, free from danger and discrimination.